Every woman deserves to have a positive birth experience, and writing a birth plan and a partner who will fight your corner can really make an impact. A Birth plan tells your healthcare provider your terms, and how you want your birth experience to be like. Where I come from, a birth plan is unheard of. But I personally think it is extremely important. Here are some tips on writing your birth plan..
One of the main things is that in the process of making a birth plan, a mom gains a lot of knowledge. In the process of making a plan, a lot of questions arise that need to answered, and this will then lead to a lot of research, and then empowered with that knowledge, she can approach the birth experience.
It is quite possible that things don’t go as planned, that medical emergencies mean that the birth plan goes out the window, but atleast you’ll know that you tried your best.
That said, it is also very important to keep an open mind. Some hospitals may not allow every element mentioned on your birth plan, and you should see if you are okay with it. Discuss every point with your doctor. Weigh out what is available and what is not, and make a decision based on that.
A lot of the times, especially for first time parents, the doctors’ words is like gospel. No questioning, no doubts, just accepting. And that doesn’t need to be the case. I would say go with your gut. And one advice that I received is ask: “can I take a few minutes to think about it?”
A birth plan is also a great starting point to build a relationship with the doctor: one of mutual respect and trust, and knowledge that the doctor will give you the best care.
Considering I was planning to give birth at the Cuban, I had it written up in both English and Spanish to ensure that language barrier didn’t play a role.
Download the word file here – birth-plan
Let me explain why I chose these options:
No Drugs. Yes. I wanted it to be as natural an experience. I knew I didn’t want epidural as it would increase the labour time, and there have been cases of epidural going wrong, and people being unable to walk for a few hours. And most people who did receive epidural claim that it has given them headaches long after leaving the hospital.
Intermittent monitoring and free movement: Many hospitals particularly in Doha insist that you labour on your back, and studies have shown that it isn’t really the case. I mean come on! Gravity, people! So ask that they allow you to move around, or squat, or go on all fours to push. There also is no need in a healthy pregnancy to have continuous fetal monitoring, as this is one of the reasons you end up on your back the whole time.
Food: Giving birth requires a lot, I mean, a lot of energy. And to keep your levels up, you definitely need to be replenishing your energy source. And water is extremely important too. You will get very thirsty.
Limited Cervical Checks: Usually this is done to check dilation, and how far you have come along. Some doctors love it, while some understand that it is not required all the time.
Empty bladder: Every time you push, it is quite possible that you end up pooping or peeing. Depending how long the labour is, there is a definite chance this will happen, so by emptying your bladders, you are delaying creating a mess.
Episiotomy: This one is debatable, but the key is to put it out there that you don’t want it unless it is medically warranted. And to let scissor happy doctors not to snip snip.
Requests to push: I have heard stories of doctors going overboard with these requests, and not even waiting till the contractions hit. This can in fact harm the woman and do more bad than good. Hence it is important to let them know that they can guide you, but to not pressure you into it. And remember, only push when the contractions are peaking.
Warm Compress can help ease the pain.
Slowing down while crowning: If you push too hard, or are forced to push too hard, you might end up injuring yourself. So please take it slow.
Skin to skin and breast feeding: Immediate skin to skin is not only one of the best feelings in the world, it actually is extremely beneficial for both mom and baby. With mom, it is the release of all the oxytocin and happiness hormones, which also calms the mom. And having a baby breastfeed moments after being born sets him up for breastfeeding properly later. INSIST ON SKIN TO SKIN no matter what.
Stem cell banking: We chose to go with this as we believe it is the best form of insurance we can give our baby. I will explain more about our process in a different post – here.
Delayed Cord Clamping – This is one thing we didn’t opt for, but in hindsight, I think maybe we should have. It a birth practice where the umbilical cord is not clamped or cut until after pulsations have ceased, or until after the placenta is delivered. It is vital to at least wait one minute, or till it stops pulsating if that is an option. According to the OneToOne website, “The benefits of delayed cord clamping for the baby include a normal, healthy blood volume for the transition to life outside the womb; and a full count of red blood cells, stem cells and immune cells. For the mother, delayed clamping keeps the mother-baby unit intact and can prevent complications with delivering the placenta.”
Physiologic birth of placenta: Even after the baby is born, the labour process id not complete. The placenta needs to be let out as well. Again, I have heard horror stories where doctor tried to get ladies to push it out or applied pressure on the abdomen. But make sure you tell the doc that you will naturally deliver it.
NEWBORN CARE (L&D)
Exams and prints: As soon as the baby is born, some hospitals whisk them away to be cleaned and measured. Try to delay that.
Vitamin K, Hep B Vaccine, and BCG: Some people prefer not to give this. But we were okay with it. Depending on your personal choice and interest in vaccinations, make a call.
Eye ointment: Some hospitals put n ointment in the eye, sort of an antibiotic to clean out their eyes and make sure that there are no harmful bacteria present after the birth process.
Baby bath: This one I think is an important point. What a lot of people do not know s that the vernix – the creamy white substance that is one the baby’s skin when they are born – is extremely beneficial for the baby and it is best to keep that on as long as possible. So, let them wipe down the baby gently, but don’t bathe and wash it off as long as possible.
NEWBORN CARE – POST PARTUM
With parent – Babies need to weighed, blood needs to tested, vaccinations need to be given. Ask that it is done with parent in room. Not because you think they’ll make a mistake, but just so that you are kept in the loop and know the exact processes baby had to undergo.
Sugar Water – Again, this is not common at all hospitals but better to ensure it doesn’t happen.
No Pacifier and No Formula: Very important. If they drink formula milk first or have a dummy, the chances are high that breastfeeding will then become a struggle due to nipple confusion. So make sure you insist on this.